(NEW YORK) — Federal prosecutors have moved to seize the $90 million Airbus A319 used as a private jet by a Russian businessman and parliamentarian known as the “richest man in the Duma.”
Andrei Skoch has been a member of Russia’s national parliament since 1999 and under U.S. sanctions since 2018 because of his “longstanding ties to Russian organized criminal groups, including time spent leading one such enterprise,” according to the Treasury Department.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. issued further sanctions against Skoch and his assets for “support[ing] the Kremlin’s efforts to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Once again US law enforcement has demonstrated that international shell games will not suffice to hide the fruits of corruption and money laundering,” said Andrew Adams, director of the Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force that has been moving to seize assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs.
Skoch came to own the Airbus through a series of shell companies and trusts tied to his romantic partner, according to a seizure warrant issued by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
U.S. dollar transactions were made to pay for the registration of the Airbus in Aruba and for aviation insurance premiums, each of which was a necessary expense to maintain and operate the Airbus, the document said.
Skoch is part owner of the steel company Lebedinsky Mining, which is now part of the conglomerate Metalloinvest.
The Justice Department’s KleptoCapture task force is targeting sanctioned Russian oligarchs and their assets over their support for Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine.
“The sanctions levied by the U.S. government and the work of this task force demonstrate to these offensively wealthy oligarchs who support Russia’s military aggression that they are not untouchable, and we are dramatically impacting their way of life,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael Driscoll.
Skoch, 56, is currently worth $6.2 billion, according to Forbes’ World’s Billionaires List.
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